Do’s and Don’ts of In-text Citations

So, in-text citations are required for your class paper, but you don’t know where to start.

Begin by giving yourself a pat on the back! Making citations within the text of your paper is a great way to signal to the reader that you’ve used information from another source, and clarifies exactly where that information came from. That means you’re giving credit where it’s due and being an ethical writer—something to always be proud of.

Next, you’re probably wondering how you can correctly format these citations. Read the list below for some in-text citation do’s and don’ts so you can avoid common mistakes made when writing them.

DO be consistent. One of the most important aspects of citation creation is to make sure you choose a citation style and stick with it throughout your paper. Be sure to check your chosen style’s rules for in-text citations, whether you’re using APA format or different style, before starting to write your paper. Use those rules from the beginning to end.

DON’T assume. It can be all too easy to say to yourself “the reader will know where this came from” when you include information from another source. This is not a good attitude to have about citations, as leaving out in-text references can lead to you being accused of plagiarism and receiving a poor grade on your assignment. Always choose to be super clear with where your research information has come from.

DO your in-text citations early on. One of the best ways to make sure you haven’t left out any in-text citations is to write them immediately after you’ve referenced a work as you are writing your paper. Waiting until the very end can lead to last-minute paper stress. Making them early can help you make the references for your bibliography, as they serve as a list of outside sources you have used in your work.

DON’T overuse. Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to include an individual in-text citation after each directly quoted sentence. If an entire paragraph or a group of sentences contains information all from the same source, a single in-text citation at the beginning or end of the paragraph will suffice.

DO double check. It is always a good idea to check your in-text citations after you have completed your paper and before you hand it in to your instructor. This is especially important if you have made in-text citations throughout the whole process of writing your paper, as it is unlikely you will remember that error you made two weeks ago. Give your in-text references one last look before turning in your paper for a grade.

DON’T forget to ask your teacher. If you are unsure of how to get started making your in-text citations for your paper, it is always a good idea to speak with your teacher. They can direct you to their preferred citation style, whether it’s MLA formatting, or a different style. It is likely that the assignment directions they provide contain details on how to make citations the way that they expect.

DO use Cite This For Me for your next writing assignment! Cite This For Me contains a bibliography builder as well as in-text citation formatting. Check out the site, and you will have access to thousands of styles, including a Harvard referencing generator, and many source types.